Steve was an ambitious young man, working in his first management role in the pharmaceutical industry when he came on a Leadership Development programme at Brathay in the 1980’s. The experience and the learning gained during those few days proved to be ‘pivotal’ in what became a successful career. He recalled a leadership project that included designing a journey in the mountains. As an individual, he was driven to achieve goals but had been faced with a rebellious group whom he was unable to influence to go that extra mile/one thousand feet. The subsequent feedback he received as part of the learning process illuminated aspects of his approach that he was then able to adapt to achieve different results, and the experience remains vivid in the telling.
Graduates are entering the workplace with academic qualifications but with gaps in key interpersonal skills that make it difficult for them to contribute fully in the workplace. Half (49%) of employers, in a recent survey conducted by Associate of Graduate Recruiters, state that graduates generally do not have the skills expected of them at the point of hiring. Skills gaps were highlighted in areas such as self-awareness, working in teams, understanding how to influence (manage upwards), being able to deal with conflict, negotiation. Closing soft skills gaps faster becomes an important aspect of graduate development.
Our approach is more nuanced and sophisticated than it might have been in the 1980’s and we design programmes that support ongoing learning, whether that includes working alongside coaches from within the business (senior leaders who are committed to developing talent) or integrating models and theories favoured by companies.
Immersing graduates in experiences that have meaning and evoke emotion is a profound way of accelerating their learning. It provides opportunities to reflect on how they come across, to practice new skills and behaviours in a safe environment, to challenge themselves in different ways that leads to growth and learning.
There are some clear guidelines to developing a robust, imaginative graduate development event
- Graduates can be a sceptical audience so the experiences need to have sufficient challenge to engage their interest and commitment, and need to be clearly relevant to the types of experiences they will face in the workplace.
- Outcomes need to be married to the organisation need – what are the key messages that we need to communicate? What are the key competencies that we need to highlight?
- Involve key stakeholders in different ways – connecting graduates with senior managers; ensuring line manager support and understanding.
- Making sure that the residential is not a stand-alone experience. Support for graduates post-development programmes is becoming more common and more important.
- Support in translating the experience , in figuring out how the learning fits into life on the factory floor, the office, the retail store. As well as accelerating the development of interpersonal skills, a well-crafted development programme can inspire individuals to reach beyond themselves, and might prove to be a source of lifelong learning.
Find out more about our Graduate Development programmes here.
To hear more about our thoughts on how we can help you to develop your people contact us.